Homage to the House Plant (and those who grow them): Leslie Phillips

Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer

Probably some of the first plants I had were funeral plants from my dad’s funeral. So it kind of felt like, ‘I need to keep this alive,’ ‘cause it was something I brought home. And it doesn’t really remind me of him, so much as I see now these plants are much older, and I see them as something like, ‘Oh, I don’t want anything to happen to these’ because it is kind of a memory, and taking care of them’s almost like taking care of him, in a way.

Part of my routine on Sundays is wake up and mist my plants and drink coffee and water everything, and if you get in a routine like that, it can be kind of like therapy to take care of them.

I love that it makes the house feel alive, you know? The plants are green, and this is winter, everything’s brown outside; I like how green and awesome it can be with plants. And like I said earlier, you kind of get to know them just like they get to know the atmosphere, and you take care of them the way they like and figure each other out and figure out what plants work for you.

The philodendron that’s in that planter [in our home], we have photos of [it] from the ‘60s, so it’s a huge floral tropical plant that should not live in Missouri, and it’s just thriving here. … But when we first moved in, someone told me that I could trim the air roots from that plant, and I did, and the plant hated me for like six months. I was like, I’ve killed this 70-year-old plant — what have I done? And actually, it’s doing great now, two years later. It’s working out. Probably I love the philodendron, but that’s not my favorite; my favorite is a pothos.

I love pothos because they can be in any room. I see them as self-care, how to take care of myself. Sometimes, I’m so busy that I know I don’t take care of myself, and the pothos is like that, too. I can kind of forget about it for a few weeks and then give him some water, and it shines right up and does great, and I have them kind of in every room.